By Mike Miazga

Correspondent

The York girls lacrosse team’s schedule, to put it mildly, is not easy.

Coach Ryan Walz ticked off a laundry list of quality foes the Dukes will face in the early part of the season, including Loyola Academy (earlier this week), which is ranked No. 1 in the Midwest region. Lyons Township (seventh in the state), Hinsdale Central (defending state champion), Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, which won the Missouri state title last year, and Kentucky Country Day, which won the Kentucky state title a year ago, are also on the slate. Lyons and Hinsdale Central, of course, reside in the same West Suburban Conference as York. “Those are some notably tough teams we play early in the season,” said Walz.

York went 13-8 a year ago and ended with a 4-1 mark in WSC play. Back from that team are seniors Mollie Grasse (defense) and Eileen O’Donnell (attack), along with junior Cate Duhig and sophomores Ellie Bernard, Emily Fleckenstein and Jenna Hughes. Duhig scored 45 goals last year, while O’Donnell had 30. Bernard and Fleckenstein each had 23. Hughes had 13 goals.

Goalies Sami Kraus and Caroline Fritsch also return. “We have two very good goalies with Sami and Caroline,” said Walz.

Fritsch will continue her lacrosse career at Division I Drexel, while Duhig is headed to Division I Kent State.

Key newcomers to the team include Kayla Rask (defense), Ellie Duhig (middie), Olivia Holubowicz (attack), Julia Kogan (attack) and Bella Swanson (middie).

Cate Duhig was an all-WSC pick last year. The Dukes graduated five all-conference players.

Walz said strengths this year include his middie group, which he labels as great, along with an overall strong offense. “We have the same middies as last year and I have high expectations for our attackers such as Eileen O’Donnell and Jenna Hughes,” he said. “We move the ball well, we have speed and we have some great shooters.”

Walz acknowledged the defensive side of the field is where York is hard at work. The Dukes graduated three of four starters back there and all three were all-WSC players. “We have some big holes to fill on defense,” he said.

Walz said keys to success this year include winning draws and gaining possession, “and also playing well defensively,” he said. “We have been working hard in practice and we have some newbies who will jump right into starting roles. We have some learning to do, but we will get to where we want to be.”

As far as an overall season outlook, Walz sees York right in the thick of the WSC. “I think we can do well again in our conference,” he said. “We have some great teams we face such as the state champs Hinsdale Central. Lyons always is one of the top teams in the state. We always start the year with some really tough competition, which always is a wakeup call for us on what needs to be fixed.”

 

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